Fwd: Headlines: Voluntary Standards of Conduct

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 5 Jan 1999 10:43:40 -0800 (PST)

>In PIAC's transmittal letter to Vice President Gore on December 18, the
>Benton Foundation was named as the home of the Committee's legacy. In that
>role we have been posting the recommendations to this list as well as the
>hub for the legacy project <www.benton.org>. We welcome your comments.
>Recommendation 2: Voluntary Standards of Conduct
>The National Association of Broadcasters, acting as the representative of
>the broadcasting industry, should draft an updated voluntary Code of Conduct
>to highlight and reinforce the public interest commitments of broadcasters.
>The Advisory Committee believes that most broadcasters feel a strong
>commitment to the public interest and their responsibilities as public
>trustees, and behave accordingly. To reinforce public service interests and
>standards, the National Association of Broadcasters adopted a "Code of
>Conduct" that set out appropriate principles and standards, and recognized
>those stations that adhered to the Code. The Code was abandoned in 1982
>after the Department of Justice objected to certain aspects of the Code's
>advertising provisions. (See Section II and Appendix B for more on this
>A new industry statement of principles updating the 1952 Code would have
>many virtues. The most significant one is that it would enable the
>broadcasting industry to identify the high standards of public service that
>most stations follow and that represent the ideals and historic traditions
>of the industry. A new set of standards can help counteract short-term
>pressures that have been exacerbated by the incredibly competitive landscape
>broadcasters now face, particularly when compared to the first 30-some years
>of the television era. Those competitive pressures can lead to less
>attention to public issues and community concerns. A renewed statement of
>principles can make salient and keep fresh general aspirations that can
>easily be lost in the hectic atmosphere and pressures of day-to-day
>To ensure that broadcasters fulfill their obligations as public trustees, we
>endorse self-regulation by knowledgeable industry people. This could serve
>as an effective tool to minimize government regulation. To that end, we
>recommend that the National Association of Broadcasters, acting as the
>representative of the broadcasting industry, draft a new set of principles
>or statement of standards. The Advisory Committee hopes that the NAB will
>develop and recommend self-regulatory standards to and for the industry. The
>standards should be drafted and implemented by the NAB and the industry,
>preferably with input from community and public interest leaders, without
>pressure, interference, or direct or indirect enforcement by the government.
>The public, the marketplace, and the court of public opinion can then judge
>their efficacy.
>What might a set of Standards of Conduct look like in the digital age? We
>include in Appendix B a model draft, done by an Advisory Committee working
>group under the leadership of Professor Cass Sunstein of the University of
>Chicago Law School. Another model we have included is the Statement of
>Principles adopted by the NAB Board of Directors to replace the old Code,
>which can be found in Appendix C.
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld